Chapter 8

It was the week of high school graduation. Raini and Shawn were sitting in a booth at Groucho's on a Sunday evening on their return to Greenville following their afternoon together at the Miller City store.

"You have such fair golden brown skin," Shawn observed, sitting across from her in the booth.

"Ramesh will be here for the graduation ceremony," Raini told him for what had to be the thirty-third time in recent weeks.

"Yes, your destiny is set," Shawn said sarcastically. "High School graduation followed by a forced marriage."

"Arranged, not forced," she remarked.

"Arrange is forced," Shawn argued.

"Never look back," Raini said with a sigh.

"You can still run away with me," Shawn said in all seriousness.

"There would be nowhere for us to go," Raini said.

"Is this really what you want?" he asked.

"It does not matter what I want," Raini reminded him.

"This is all wrong," Shawn protested. "Is he really the person you want to marry?"

"You are being too sensible."

"I know you're not okay with this," Shawn said.

"Everything is fine," Raini insisted.

"Not with me," Shawn said.

"Please don't make this hard on me," Raini requested.

"Your parents are selfish people," Shawn complained.

"Is something wrong?"

"Of course something's wrong," Shawn groaned.

"What is it?"

"You know what it is."

"You shouldn't worry about me," Raini advised.

"None of it makes sense."

"What would you have me say, Shawn?" Raini asked, her eyes filling with water.

"You tell me," he requested.

"I guess I just didn't believe it would happen to me."

"An arranged marriage?"

"No, falling for an Anglo like you," Raini said.

Shawn fell back in the booth with amazement. "Finally," he said. "Finally you say it."

"I wanted to say it a hundred times," she admitted. "But it doesn't change anything. I'm still marrying Ramesh."

"Why?"

"Because it is the way it is," she said.

"It's not the way it should be," he said.

"If you really love me you will understand," she said.

"I really love you but I will never understand," Shawn admitted, his voice cracking.

"Will you accept it?" She asked.

"I have no choice," he sighed.

"Just like me," Raini told him.

When they finished their burgers, Shawn walked Raini to her car in the parking lot.

"So, this is goodbye," Raini said as she opened the door to her car.

"You are beautiful," Shawn told her.

For some reason, that emboldened her. After all this time of resisting because she was pledged to another man, suddenly Raini leaned in and kissed Shawn on the mouth while pressing herself against him which caused Shawn to audibly groan.

She was surprised by how pleasant the sensation was as well as the unexpected feeling pumping between her legs as Shawn returned the kiss with passion and hope.

"This hurts as much as I knew it would," Shawn sighed into her mouth.

She closed her eyes and whimpered, the tears falling freely from her face. "Raini Dazys and Mondays always get me down," she sang, channeling Karen Carpenter.

She broke from him, climbed into the car and sped away, refusing to look in the rear view mirror to see the Anglo Shawn Monday staring after her.